ISWA Constitution


(as approved by a General Meeting of the Association, Montreal 1967 with amendments September 1972; February 1987; totally revised June 2016; and amended April 2017)

1. Name and Definitions

a) The name of the body to which this Constitution applies is the International Science Writers Association.

b) The terms “science writers,” “science journalism” and “science writing” shall be interpreted to mean the popularization of science, i.e., the communication of information about science and technology to general audiences through various media, including print, broadcast, online and social media.

c) International Science Writers Association shall be abbreviated as ISWA, and in this document be referred to as the “Association.”

d) The Association is an organization of individual membership, and, while such members may belong to national or regional organizations, they represent only their individual interests, not those of any other organization, association, or interest group.

2. Mission

a) To provide a channel for the exchange of ideas and professional experience among those engaged in international science writing.

b) To conduct meetings and to plan congresses and events with a view to improving international knowledge of science writing.

c) To foster the highest standards of science writing, and to provide a critical voice, throughout the world.

d) To negotiate with scientific organizations and institutions to obtain improved, free, and open access to meetings, workshops, and information for all accredited science writers.

e) To raise funds for awards, teaching, seminars, etc.

f) To undertake such other activities as may be of general benefit to all members.

3. Membership

a) Full membership shall be open to persons of demonstrated experience in science writing, as defined in Section 1b, over an extended period of time, through an independent medium, or about research independent of their organization.

b) Associate membership shall be open to persons concerned with the dissemination of scientific information, for example, but not limited to, professors of journalism or institutional spokespersons, and willing to further the aims of the Association. Associate members shall not be entitled to vote.

c) Lifetime membership shall be granted by decision of the Board to any person who has performed long, meritorious service to ISWA; such shall pay no dues, but have all other rights and privileges of membership.

d) Student membership shall be open to undergraduate or graduate students in science, science journalism or general journalism programs with a demonstrated interest in science journalism, as defined in Section 1b, and dedicated to the objectives of ISWA. Student members have no vote, and can only be members as long as they are full-time students.

e) No position or membership in the Association shall be denied to any person based on gender, race, religion, nationality, creed, or sexual orientation.

4. Administration

The organization shall be administered by a Board, in whom shall be vested fullest executive powers, provided that in the exercise of such powers no Article of the Constitution shall be contravened. All meetings and elections mentioned herein may be conducted electronically in lieu of actual physical meetings.

a) Constitution of the Board

The Board shall consist of six Full members, four of whom are the Officers and two Members-At-Large.

Casual vacancies arise if a Board member resigns, cannot carry out assigned duties as decided by the Board, or fails to attend three consecutive meetings. Such vacancies shall be filled by the Board for the remainder of the term for which the vacancy would have continued.

b) Election of the Board

Election shall be by the members of the Association, in conformity with procedures set from time to time by the Board, through an Election Committee made up of non-Board Full Members.

c) Meetings of the Board

All regular meetings of the Board shall be called by the Secretary, and notice with a preliminary agenda shall be given at least two weeks in advance to all members of the Board. The President may call for an extraordinary meeting with less than two weeks notice. A quorum of the meeting shall be four members, which must be chaired by the President or Vice President. Decisions at all Board meetings shall be by simple majority, the Chair to have a casting vote.

d) General Assembly Meetings

The Board shall meet during a General Assembly at least once a year, which may be a virtual or electronic assembly, in which Members can speak directly with the Board. Motions made and seconded during a General Assembly are to be voted upon by all present, and a quorum for such a vote is 9 persons.

5. Admission to Membership

a) All applications must be submitted on the standard application form of the Association.

b) Membership in the Association shall be conditional on strict observance of the highest standards of journalism. Willful or frequent misrepresentation or inaccuracy, willful breach of confidence, or behavior in any way prejudicial to the professional interests of the Association shall be considered in breach of such observance.

c) A member against whom a written formal statement of complaint of infringement of Section 5b, duly signed by the complainant, is laid shall be called before a committee of three or more members as requested by the Board. A copy of the written statement shall be received by the respondent at least three weeks before any hearing. An adequate record shall be kept of the hearing. In lieu of a formal hearing, due to geographical constraints, a complaint may be circulated to the assembled committee members–with a copy to the accused member–and judgments solicited by and received by the Association President. A summary decision of the Committee will be provided to the member within one month of first circulation; however, copies of all comments (unsigned) will be made available upon request. Only the Board or the committee shall have the power to warn, suspend, or expel the member complained against. A written statement of the reasons for any suspension or expulsion shall be made to members of the Association upon their request.

In the complaint process, electronic documents—emails, PDF files, etc.—may be construed as ‘written statements.’

d) A Membership Committee shall be empowered to make all such enquiries and to call for all such evidence as it may consider necessary to reach a decision on any application for membership. In absence of a Membership Committee, the Board shall act as one.

e) The Membership Committee’s decision to accept or to reject an application shall be final, provided that a candidate whose application is rejected shall be entitled to reapply for membership following an interval of twelve months after being notified of the decision.

6. Dues and Financial Year

The annual dues for Membership categories shall be fixed by the Board from time to time by majority vote of the quorum in attendance at any duly-called Board meeting, subject to three months notice being given to the membership of any proposed alteration. Regardless of time of application and initial dues payment, all dues shall be for the current fiscal year, which is the calendar year. The Treasurer, with oversight by the Board, shall have power to suspend or waive subscriptions in special circumstances.

7. Membership List

The Secretary shall annually circulate a list of members in good standing. The list will be maintained by the Treasurer to include contact information for each such member.

8. Officers

a) The President shall preside at all meetings of the Board, setting their agendas, and shall represent the organization on all external matters, unless others are so designated by the President or the Board. The President shall also preside at the General Assembly of members. As executive in charge of the affairs of the organization, the President shall enforce the Constitution, serve as ex officio member of all Committees, and guide the Association in accomplishing its mission, including setting the organization’s overall goals and agenda.

b) The Vice-President shall act in lieu of the President, if that officer is prevented from performing functions.

c) The Secretary shall prepare the minutes of the Board meetings, and any Executive Committee meetings, and shall oversee the daily administrative tasks of the Association.

d) The Treasurer shall supervise the collection and disbursal of all funds of the Association. Account books or records, which may be in electronic form, shall be available for audit. The Treasurer shall present a financial report to the Board annually, or as requested, and shall supervise the membership records.

e) Decisions which may fundamentally alter the Association’s operation or expose the Association or individual Board members to personal legal or financial liability or risk shall require unanimous approval by the Board. These may include any decision in which an Officer, including the President, may have to sign their name; such actions cannot be done against the Officer’s will.

9. Board-appointed positions

a) The Board shall be empowered to appoint such honorary or paid personnel as it may consider necessary for the efficient conduct of the Association, provided that no such official shall vote in the deliberations of the Board unless already a Board member.

b) The most recent serving President may be offered the Board-appointed position of Immediate Past President (IPP) in an advisory role in which he or she may attend but can not vote. The IPP serves at the pleasure of the current Board and has a maximum term that ends with the end of service of the current Board, or two years, whichever comes first. After this, that IPP may run for a Board position if they wish to serve on the Association Board.

10. Committees

The Board shall be empowered to create such committees as it may consider desirable, which shall be filled by Members of the Association. The Board may appoint the Chair of each Committee, or the Committee can be empowered to make its own choice of Chair. The Chair shall be invited to attend and speak at Board meetings when Committee matters are discussed, but cannot vote on any Committee-related motion put before the Board, even if such Chair is a Board member.

11. Amendments to the Constitution

This Constitution, after the Membership during the year of its revision has voted its approval, may be amended at any time by two-thirds of the members responding to a ballot, notice having been given no less than six weeks in advance of intention to amend the Constitution, together with the draft of the proposed change.

20 June 1967
06 February 1987
13 August 2016
11 April 2017